Al Jean talks Simpsons season 25, del Toro’s guest sequence Sunday and the dawn of Duff

The Simpsons 24th annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode aired Sunday. A highlight was the extended title sequence by Guillermo del Toro. The Mexican-born director of such films as Pacific Rim and Hellboy was invited to guest direct the opener, as Simpsons’ long time showrunner Al Jean explained to me this past summer at the Fox TCA press tour party. Del Toro–who is behind the upcoming FX horror series The Strain currently shooting in Toronto–worked the extended “couch gag” opening sequence out with a storyboard artist. “We got clearances from basically every classic horror star of all time,” said Jean.
Watch the clip and you’ll see that it’s true. You can even see the Invisible Man, which doesn’t make sense.
Jean says a couple of horror stars or creatures turned the show down but didn’t specify which ones.
It’s not just creatures and monsters in the mix, either. Alfred Hitchcock is seen in one sequence, as is Stephen King.
Jean says the 550th episode of The Simpsons will air next May. Only Gunsmoke, among North American prime time network series, stands between the animated Fox series and the all-time record. The western packed 600 episodes into 20 seasons.
Fox just announcing it has renewed the comedy for a 26th season–putting it about one more year away from breaking Gunsmoke‘s record.

This game is awesome, man

I talked to Jean about my addiction to The Simpsons’ Tapped Out, the game I’m constantly updating on my tablet. It’s a clever little marvel that allows players to basically build Springfield one building at a time, “freeing” characters to join the community. When you’re adding Big Tony’s henchmen at level 33 you know you have a problem.
The game is a brilliant marketing ploy for the series. It is constantly prompting players to download updates, and there are occasional links back to the Sunday night episodes.
I asked Jean why there are no Simpsons slot machines in Vegas casinos. He says “Matt Groening is really careful about what we do,” turning down merchandising pitches that aren’t either “high quality” or “funny.”
One they finally gave in to was licensing actual Duff beer. “It’s already available in so many places around the world [in unlicensed versions] we had to get into it,” says Jean, who has tried and likes the new, approved stuff, brewed by a micro brewer. Coming soon to a Moe’s tavern near you.

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